State Of The Music Industry
But the music biz is in control…
As we wrap up the end of 2016 and all the “best of lists” are being showcased and reviewed with the hit songs and albums that dominated the year, we’re starting to think about the state of the music industry.
Just last week the Grammys revealed their list of nominees. We saw some familiar faces and some newcomers. One of those is Chance The Rapper who is up for seven awards, and he, unlike his other nominated brethren, has no record label to call home.
With the democratization of the internet, we’ve seen artists of all kinds become more empowered than ever to take control of their work, and Chance’s success this year as well as the success of other nominees from “Drake” to “Beyonce” represents a new vitality for the industry. This outlook is a stark contrast from the past rocky decade, where the inception of Napster created a catalyst that opened Pandora’s box and led to to the cannibalization of music revenues. CD’s became obsolete as did purchasing digital albums and singles. Now the music industry seems to have a handle on the business.
Apple Music just hit 20M paying subscribers after only 18 months of existence and Spotify has double that. Tidal is somewhere in the mix and alternative platforms like Soundcloud and Musical.ly are helping the music ecosystem. More confounding is the return of the vinyl record. Nostalgia and the experience of holding something tangible is becoming more valuable in an age where everything is “hands free” even though all this music is at our fingertips.
People should play close attention to the music industry, it often signifies where consumer behavior is heading. Live music, musical experiences and subscription platforms have brought the industry bottom line slowly back up. Their struggles and successes have been prophetic to what film, fashion and other industries will face quite soon. Streaming platforms are the new record labels, and the current issues with windowing and exclusives prove that content is king, and film + TV distribution platforms, even social networks like Snapchat, Facebook and the newly defunct Vine, are all facing similar conundrums.
Talent is still everything, the song is still everything, and as the music industry continues to figure itself out, the winners are the artists, platforms and businesses that have an authentic voice, provide a unique experience, and make their music most accessible to their fans. Chance gets people to the polls. Spotify is meeting fans wherever they are, and Apple is creating IP around all of its marquee artists. Music isn’t going away, it’s like oxygen, and those that succeed won’t just make people groove, but get them to take action, keeping fans coming back for more.